Dire need for political smarts

Alan
Alan Holman
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Progressive Conservative party president Peter McQuaid and interim party leader Steven Myers share a laugh at the party's annual meeting Saturday in North Rustico. The party's leadership convention will be held May 30, 2015. Guardian photo by Teresa Wright.

Moving convention to February worst political mistake of year

Ah, a new year, a time for resolutions. Some people make lists. The longer the list, the less likely the resolutions will be adhered to.

So, for the P.E.I. Conservatives a single resolution should suffice. One resolution, strictly followed.

‘We, the P.E.I. PC Party,  for the good of the Party, and for the benefit of all Prince Edward Islanders, resolve that in the future we will count to 10 before  making any strategic moves, we further resolve that we will make more astute strategic political moves in 2015, than we did in 2014.’

Last November, after Premier Robert Ghiz announced his resignation plans, the amiable minister of agriculture, George Webster stood in the Legislature and indicated that the government wished to eliminate the October fixed election date, to allow the new Liberal leader the flexibility to call an election at his pleasure.

On Nov. 18 when George Webster rose in the legislature and spoke about changing the fixed election date, he was putting the worm on the hook. In the Legislature the Conservatives questioned the need for changing the law, and they demanded to know if the Liberals were planning a spring election.

Then the Tories panicked.

With a new Liberal leader in place on Feb. 22, and their leadership convention not scheduled until May 30, the Conservative hierarchy, including Party President Peter McQuaid, spooked themselves into believing they would be forced to fight an election campaign without a new leader in place. Those dastardly Liberals have no honour and fewer scruples.

On Nov. 27 the Conservatives indicated they had swallowed the worm, the hook, the line and the sinker. The announced they were changing the date of their convention from May 30, to February 28. They did this because they were convinced the nefarious Liberals were certain to call an election while they were in the middle of a leadership campaign.

But, just how likely was it that the Liberals would call an election when their primary opponents were in the midst of a leadership contest? Most people would view such a move as unconscionably opportunistic.

Had the Conservatives waited one more day before announcing they were changing the date of their convention, they would have heard the presumptive leader of the Liberals, Wade MacLauchlan, talk about how he intends to lower the level of acrimony in political debate by appealing  to the ‘better nature’ of Islanders.

Even Conservative hawks should recognize that it would be difficult to ‘appeal to the better nature’ of Islanders and at the same time call an election whilst the Tories were in the throughs of leadership campaigning.

By assuming the ‘evil nature’ of the Liberals, the Conservatives have now set up a scenario where the Liberals can call an election as soon as the Tory new leader is named.

It is a scenario that appeals to the Liberals because it goes beyond simply catching the new Tory leader before has time to get used to his new role. By  saying they will be ready for an election as soon as they have a new leader, the Conservatives have given the Liberals a pass to call an election without a legislative session. It means Wade MacLauchlan can go to the polls carrying little  of the Ghiz government’s baggage.

He can claim he is a new man, with a new vision and, hopefully, a bunch of new candidates.

Had the Conservatives not panicked and held their leadership convention on May 30, Wade MacLauchlan would have been be premier on, or about, Feb. 22. He would have had to govern for at least three months before calling an election. Three months to watch a neophyte premier undergo his on-the-job training. In politics where it is said that a week is a lifetime, three months is an eternity.

Chances are the government would have gone to the Legislature in March or April to pass a budget in order to carry on the affairs of state. Mr. MacLauchlan would have likely gone to the Legislature with the existing cabinet.

Coupled with the difficulty of being a novice premier he would have had to run a legislative agenda without a seat. By bringing down a budget and governing for three months, Mr. MacLauchlan might have made a few slips and created his own baggage to carry into the next election.

But the Conservatives saved the Liberals from all that when they changed the date of their convention. It might have been the worst political mistake of the year.

 

Alan Holman is a freelance journalist living in Charlottetown. He can be reached at: acholman@pei.eastlink.ca

Organizations: P.E.I. Conservatives, P.E.I. PC Party, Tory

Geographic location: Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • reality
    January 05, 2015 - 07:06

    politicians are broken - just like humpty dumpty ----- people who believe in politicians are scarce - politicians have earned a very sad legacy

  • Summerside Resident
    January 04, 2015 - 12:26

    Then two clowns on the front page are part of the very ones who removed Olive Crane, she knew to much and was trying to expose the PNP takers and believe me both Liberals and Conservatives were in to that scandal .Using the immigrants for thier own game. Where in hell is the RCMP long overdue investigation.

    • Wilma
      January 04, 2015 - 18:31

      To Summerside Resident: Pardon my ignorance (naivete?), but, what is it that prevents Olive Crane from telling what she knows about the PNP program? Why does she have to be leader of the PC party to blow the whistle? I echo your call for the RCMP to undertake a much-needed and long-awaited investigation.

  • mike
    January 04, 2015 - 02:22

    I think I would be more worried about the political smarts of the Liberal Party. Running a one candidate leadership on the way to a coronation. Not to mention the fact that he has NO LUFE experience outside the university world. How many times have we seen university professor types in politics who are successful and have actually done anything. Lets see there was Stephan Dion and the other guy Iggy. I think maybe Allan Holman wants to remove his Liberal blinders and maybe start looking at his former/employer party and start asking about political smarts.

  • Dire Need
    January 03, 2015 - 21:17

    We have a real dire need for less liberal shills writing for this paper.

  • Angus
    January 03, 2015 - 12:28

    You headline a dire need for political smarts, with a picture of two has-beens like McQuaid and Myers? Oxymoronic to say the least.

  • Observer
    January 03, 2015 - 09:54

    An opinion made by former liberal premier Catherine Callbeck's principal secretary! Enough said!!

    • huh
      January 03, 2015 - 14:16

      Enough said? Not really. It might have actually added to the discussion if you offered your views on why his opinion is wrong.

  • so sad
    January 03, 2015 - 09:43

    You are so naive to think the liberals would not have called an election when the conservatives didn't have a leader.The liberals have to call an election so they dont have to bring down a budget.

  • Back Room Boys
    January 03, 2015 - 08:43

    Worst political mistake of the year. Are you saying the back room boys failed the party again? Problem is when they rise to power again, these same minds that have made all these political blunders, including running Olive out of the party, are the same minds that will be running the province, not the new puppet leader.

  • peter llewellyn
    January 03, 2015 - 08:22

    You impress me Alan, so you actually "Knew" this would be the situation months ago when all this was happening and held back from using your insight as a prediction in your column.. It was a Brilliant insightful move to save this for your New Year Story ----WOW. Brilliant Alan??. (Or just petty hindsight ????)

    • tp
      January 03, 2015 - 14:19

      ummm....speaking of petty, Peter, that sorta sounds a bit like your post. I would have been far more impressed if you had dissected his opinion and shown Holman to be out to lunch. But, easier to insult than it is to craft an opinion I guess.